Nature Foundation and Dolphin Defenders partner on research

POSTED: 01/20/12 12:48 PM

The fin on a marine mammal that was spotted in local waters. (St. Maarten Nature Foundation photo)

GREAT BAY – The St. Maarten Nature Foundation restarted its Marine Mammal Monitoring project recently with assistance from Dolphin Defenders St. Maarten. The project, which runs from February until May, includes a wide scale census of all marine mammals in the island’s territorial waters, including within the Man of War Shoal Marine Park.
“Many on St. Maarten might not be aware that there is a relatively significant Marine Mammal population in the waters surrounding St. Maarten, including numerous species of whales and dolphins. St. Maarten lies within the area of the Western Atlantic where various whale species come to give birth to their young. From February to May several hundreds of Humpback Whales migrate from the northern Atlantic to areas within the Caribbean to give birth and nurse their young before heading back up north,” Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets said.
Sperm whales and several types of dolphins are among the species that make their home in local waters and this year’s census will give the foundation an idea of the most numerous species, migration routes and dates, and the feasibility of regulated wild whale and dolphin watching trips. Some of the information will also be used to raise awareness on the wild marine mammal population and conservation issues marine mammals encounter in local waters.
Last year’s study shows that the humpback whale and calves was the most abundant marine mammal. The species was spotted by 33 individuals. The bottle nose dolphin, which was spotted by 19 individuals, was the second most abundant species and the long snouted spinner dolphin was the third most abundant species as there were nine sightings of this particular animal.
“The Man of War Shoal Marine Park had a considerable number of recordings of both whale and dolphin species which adds considerably to the biological value of the Park. Acoustic recordings of male Humpback Whales singing were also taken at various points in the waters surrounding St. Maarten, and the public is urged to listen to the local whale songs on,” Bervoets stated.
People who want marine mammal sighting forms or report a whale or dolphin sighting should contact the Nature Foundation at or via telephone at 5444267. Information will also be distributed through the Nature Foundation Facebook page at

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